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Visual Resources Center: Citing Images

The Vanderbilt University Visual Resources Center resides in the History of Art department and is your source for finding and properly using high-quality images resources for your papers, presentations, and projects.

Citation Basics

MLA and Chicago are common citation styles in the Art History field. However, your professor may have a different preference for what information they expect in citations, so refer to their syllabus for details.

When to Cite

When to Attribute

Any images you plan to use in a scholarly work (from print or web) should be cited according to required format style (MLA, Chicago, etc.)

You may attribute an image for presentations, papers, or other formats that do not require a specific style.

Not all citation styles require all the information relating to an artwork, but the the following details are commonly required in citations: 

  • Artist; title; date created; material or medium; dimensions of work; repository or owner; city or country of origin; repository accession number; image reproduction source

Citing in the body of the text

  • Refer to the work of art using the following format: Artist/creator, Title (Figure #). 
  • Assign figure numbers in order as each new image is first referenced in the text. Include the figure number when you cite all the images at the end of the text. 

Tips: 

  • When composing a citation, provide what information you do know and write "unknown" for any information you cannot locate. 

  • Cite the original source of images found on Google, rather than google.com. 

MLA Citation

Blake, William. The Ghost of a Flea. 1918. Tempera heightened with gold on mahogany. Tate Britain,
London. 
Art Project. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.


Last name, First name. Title of Work. Year. Medium. Repository: Location of repository. Website name. Website sponsor. Web. Date of retrieval.

Chicago Citation

​Duveneck, Frank. Whistling Boy, 1872. Oil on canvas. 28 in. x 21.5 in. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati. <www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org>, accessed 31 May, 2017.


Last name, First name. Title of Work, Year. Medium, dimensions. Repository, Location of repository. <website URL>, accessed date.

Creative Commons Attribution

Diet Ripped by Susan Murtaugh (2014) (CC-BY-ND 2.0)


Title by Creator Name (date) (License)

Include any additional information required to locate the image, such as date retrieved or website/publication source. In the example above, the title has been hyperlinked to the Flickr page for this work.